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Pasadena City Council joins Post Office fight

By Brian Charles, SGVN twitter.com/JBrianCharles Posted: 06/21/2012 10:24:30 PM PDT http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_20912117/pasadena-city-council-joins-post-office-fight

The Pasadena City Council has written a letter seeking to keep mail-sorting operations at Mack Robinson Post Office, above. (Staff file photo) PASADENA - Mayor Bill Bogaard and the Pasadena City Council joined the fight to keep the Mack Robinson Post Office from ceasing its processing operation in July. In a letter sent this week to U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Bogaard urged the Post Office's top officials to abandon a plan to relocate mail sorting operations to Los Angeles. "I am writing to express strong opposition to consolidating Pasadena's Mack Robinson Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC)," Mayor Bogaard said in his letter. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, Rep. Judy Chu, D-El Monte and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Norwalk sent a letter to Donahoe in May, pleading with him not to close the Mack Robinson Post Office. Retail service and mail collection will continue at the Mack Robinson Post Office, but the sprawling facility at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard will cease sorting and processing mail in July. As many as 128 of the employees at the processing center will be transferred to other facilities as far as 50 miles away, according to a staff memo obtained by this newspaper. The mail sorting facility in Northwest Pasadena bears the name of Mack Robinson, winner of the silver medal in the 1936 Olympics and a Pasadena community activist. Mack Robinson's widow Delano Robinson sent a letter to the Pasadena-branch NAACP on June 13 expressed her dissatisfaction with the planned closure. The workers will either be transferred to Los Angeles or facilities as far as 900 miles from Pasadena.

Bogaard, who drafted the letter with the support of the entire City Council, said the loss of the facility could hit the Pasadena economy especially hard. "The closure will place significant economic and financial hardship on Pasadena's businesses, residents and postal employees," Bogaard said in the letter. "The local and efficient delivery of mail is central to the businesses in Pasadena that provide our jobs and fuel our economy." Pasadena-branch NAACP President Joe Brown has been at the forefront of the fight to keep the Mack Robinson Post Office open. He applauded the stance taken by City Council and the Mayor in the letter sent to the Postmaster General on Thursday. "That is one of the strongest letters this City Council has ever drafted," Brown said. Brown, a Post Office retiree, has launched a series of verbal salvos at Post Office District Manager Kerry Wolny, characterizing him as unyielding in his efforts to close the Mack Robinson Post Office. "Our district manager, it seems as if he is trying to say to the elected officials in the area and the local people `I don't care what you say, I am going to do what I want to do,"' Brown said. Earlier promises to relocate postal workers to a similar processing facility in Los Angeles have fallen through, according to the memo. "Most of the impacted employees from the Pasadena Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC) will not be reassigned to the Los Angeles P&DC, as there are not enough vacant positions there to accommodate them," Post Office Spokesman Richard Maher said. "They could be reassigned to jobs in other processing centers or to jobs in Post Offices and stations, as close to the Pasadena P&DC as possible." The internet has chipped away at much of the Post Office's business, as the 237-year-old agency has noted continual declined in letters delivered in the last decade. But the internet doesn't bear all the blame, said Cornell Woods, Pasadena Post Office employee. "The internet has hurt, but it's also helped some, Woods said. "We have eBay customers who have parcels delivered everyday." Parcel delivers have increased each year with the rise of internet shopping, according to officials. In 2006, Congress forced the agency to fund its employee pension 75 years out. The move has left the Post Office cash strapped ever since. Postal employees are pushing for the passage of S. 1789, a bill that would alleviate some of the Post Office pension burden. The bill has passed the Senate and awaits approval in the House of Representatives. Chu and Schiff have expressed their support for the bill. brian.charles@sgvn.com 626-962-8811, ext. 4494